Namibia is a truly special place, a country with vast stretches of desert. In spite of this the desert contains an astonishing amount of wildlife that has adapted to survive in this arid landscape. And the desert scenery is remarkable, from dry salt pans to towering red dunes; there is no country quite like it. The most popular way to get around Namibia is by road – it is safe to self-drive and the popular attractions of Sossusvlei, Etosha, Swakopmund and Damaraland can easily be reached. I love the open stretches of road winding through the desert countryside that seem to go on forever.
Things to do
- Visit Etosha, Namibia’s most popular wildlife reserve
- See the highest dunes and one of the oldest deserts in the world in Sossusvlei
- Enjoy the magnificent desert landscape and scenery
- Get a chance to spot some of the unique desert adapted wildlife – the desert elephant, lion, and black rhino
Etosha comprises of huge expanses of arid grassland and evaporating salt pans, where large numbers of game are sustained by a collection of natural springs and waterholes. My highlight of a visit to the Etosha National Park is the opportunity to see cheetah in their natural environment, a rare species in many other parks in Southern Africa.
Damaraland is a magical place where the colours of the sand and the rocks change with the setting of the sun. The area is totally unspoilt and devoid of crowds, and offers highlights such as the chance to see the elusive desert elephants, a visit to the Twyfelfontein bushman engravings, nature walks in the area, and the opportunity to track the desert rhino. For me nothing beats camping out amongst the rocky outcrops and koppies of Spitzkoppe.
Sossusvlei and the Namib desert is like no other desert on earth – the majestic towering red dunes, some of the highest in the world, go on for miles and miles. It is well worth the exhausting hike to the top of one of these dunes, especially at sunrise. A quick inspection of the dunes does not reveal a living thing anywhere in sight – however if you look a little more closely, then you may see a lizard scuttling along the sand or if you are lucky, even a snake.
Highlights of Namibia Self-drive ** itinerary sample
If you really want to see the landscape, and get a feel for this amazing country then driving yourself through the vast Namibian countryside gives you a chance to go at your own pace, taking plenty of photographs of this photogenic landscape.
Please note that this is a suggested itinerary only … if this does not suit your needs exactly, then we can create an itinerary that does.
On arriving at Windhoek International make your way to the car hire counter and pick up your rental vehicle. You have about a 5 hour drive to Etosha on a tar road. Spend three nights in Etosha at a camp of your choice where you can either enjoy guided activities offered by the camp, or you can indulge your own game spotting talents and drive yourself through Etosha. The vast plains make for easy animal spotting.
From Etosha you will drive slightly west and south into the Damaraland area. Here is where the gravel roads start, so driving is a little slower. You will also want to stop for the many photographic opportunities en route. Spend three nights in the Damaraland region at a camp of your choice. Here you will feel completely removed from the rest of the world and you will be able to relax and take in your beautiful surroundings. There are many amazing geological formations in this area, ancient rock paintings at Twyfelfontein, or some walking in the Brandberg to keep you occupied. You can either arrange the activities through the camp, or you can drive yourself.
From Damaraland head to Swakopmund along the coast, where you will spend 2 nights at a centrally located guesthouse. There are plenty of activities you can do in Swakopmund, so a two or three night stay here will give you time to really explore the area and enjoy what is on offer.
It is a long drive down to the Sossusvlei dunes of the Namib-Naukluft National Park – so an early start stands you in good stead. It is recommended that you take a packed lunch with you too. There are a few lodge options in this area but most of them are actually outside the National Park in their own private concessions. This area is incredibly beautiful and you can easily spend two nights here enjoying the sunrise over the dunes, hiking up to the top of the dunes, photographing ‘Dead Vlei’, or embarking on a scenic balloon or aeroplane flight.
An early start is recommended for the long drive back to Windhoek. There are some beautiful passes on the way so again, great opportunities for photographs. When in Windhoek a stay in central spot with easy airport access. We can recommend some great options for your last night before you drop your car at the airport and head home the next day.